Golf Course Layout: Understanding The Terms Of Golf Course

Golf Course Layout

Have you just started playing golf? If this is the case, you may be curious about the design/layout of the golf course. If you want to make a successful shot, you must have a brief understanding of the layout and the different parts of it. 

Before talking about each part of a golf course, let’s first examine what a golf course is, its types, and the number of holes it has. So let’s get started!

What Is A Golf Course Layout?

Golf courses are designed to provide a challenging yet enjoyable playing experience for golfers. They come in various shapes, styles, and designs, each offering features and challenges.

The standard layout of a golf course consists of 18 holes. However, some golf courses have fewer or more holes. Each hole has several components, including the teeing area, fairway, rough, hazards, and putting green. Golf courses can be found worldwide, ranging from public to private clubs. 

What Are The Different Types Of Golf Course Layouts?

Different Types Of Golf Course Layouts

There are several golf course layouts, each with unique features and characteristics. Here are some of the most common types of golf courses.

1- Links Courses

Most of these courses are near the coast and have wide, open fairways, deep bunkers, and greens that rise and fall. Links golf courses are known for having strong winds and weather that constantly changes.

2- Parkland courses

These courses are usually in the country’s center, with large, bending greens and fairways lined with trees. Most of the time, parkland courses look better kept than links courses.

3- Mountain Courses 

These golf holes are carved into the side of mountains and offer breathtaking views of the surroundings. They often have challenging changes in elevation, rocky terrain, and narrow fairways that make it hard to make a good shot. 

4- Desert Courses 

These courses are made to look like they belong in the desert. They have rough terrain, cacti, and sand. To stay in play and avoid hazards on desert courses, golfers often need to hit accurate tee shots and plan their course strategy.

5- Executive Courses 

These courses are shorter than an ordinary 18-hole course, so they can be played in less time. Executive courses usually have fewer hazards and less complex layouts, making them great for golfers who are just starting or only have a little time.

Vital Terms Of Golf Course Layout

Vital Terms Of Golf Course Layout

Below I mentioned the essential parts of the golf course layout that each course has. 

1- The Practice Green

The practice green is the specific short area on the golf course where the golfers or players practice their putting and chipping skills before starting the game. It’s located near the clubhouse or tee. It’s designed to practice short game shots with the help of putters as players quickly move from hole to hole. 

2- Driving Range

After practicing the green, the golfers move to the next phase or section, a driving range. This is also a practice area, but it’s larger than practice green. Here golfers test different clubs and perform full shot practice to improve distance and accuracy. It helps golfers to make a strategy to cover the distance in the long run. It’s usually used for longer practice sessions. 

3- The Tee Box

This is the initial segment where golfers start their game after practice – the first layout of the golf course. It consists of several holes with multiple tee boxes. These tee boxes are marked with different colors (color-coding system) to indicate the designated areas for golfers to begin their shots. It exhibits variations in shapes and sizes, and its placement can be altered at various angles to improve the hole’s difficulty level. This is the place from which the players take their first shot – the tee shot. 

The color-coding systems indicate the distance and difficulty level of each hole. It includes colors such as red, white, and blue. But golfers now use different colors such as golden/yellow, black, and others. Each tee color has a specific meaning like

  • The red tee is mainly used for ladies with short distances (close) to the hole. 
  • The white tee is mainly used for average golfers, especially those with modest driving skills. 
  • Blue tee is mainly used for experienced golfers. 
  • Yellow/golden tee is mainly used for competitive play/events or senior tees. 
  • The black tee is the largest and most challenging hole in the game. 

4- The Fairway

After the tee shot, the golfers moved toward the fairway. It’s the primary section between the tee box and the green. The fairway in golf is usually broad and free of any hurdles. It’s kept short of providing a smooth surface so golfers can make accurate shots. A golfer aims to drive the ball as far down the fairway as possible while keeping it within the lines of play.

5- The Rough

The following section is rough. It’s the area of grass that connects to the fairway and typically shows greater density and height than the grass on the fairway. The rough-in golf is intended to serve as a punishment zone for players who fail to land their shots on the fairway, increasing difficulty in hitting the ball. The placement of obstacles is frequently strategic, intending to increase the hole’s difficulty, particularly in areas surrounding the green or close to a water hazard.

6- The Bunkers

It’s the next section of the golf course. The bunkers are hazards are the sand traps that make the game more challenging for golfers or players to strike the ball. It’s the most difficult phase of the game as the golfer needs to make a strategic plan to hit the ball, also within the boundaries. It takes years for golfers to master the sand traps. 

If the bunker is near to green, it’s named greenside bunker. And if the bunker is located near the fairway (away from green), it’s called a fairway bunker. To cope with this kind of bunker, it’s crucial to hit the ball an inch or two and ensure your club is not connected to sand. It’s also true that golfers use different strategies to hit the ball. 

7- The Green

The green is the most crucial part of the golf hole. The flagstick and a cup (hole) are in a small circular area. The main objective of golfers is to roll the ball into the cup with the help of a putter. It’s usually cut short, so the golfers can quickly put the ball in the hole. The area near the ground is called the fringe and is usually slightly higher than the green.

Advanced Terminologies Used For Golf Course Layout 

Besides these basic terminologies, the golfers used more advanced terms to describe the course’s layout accurately. 

1- The Fringe 

The fringe is the grassy area around the green. It’s like a fairway’s “first cut.” Fringe and first cut can describe the area around the green or fairway, but “fringe” is often used for the green. From the fringe, you can select to chip the ball, but most players find it easy to putt the ball.  

2- The Cup

A cup is a small hollow on the green into which the golf ball must fall in order to finish a hole. In most cases, its diameter measures four and a quarter inches. For the cup to be visible from a greater distance, it is typically lined with a flagstick that can be removed. A pin or flagstick is placed inside the cup to be visible from a distance. 

3- The First Cut

The first cut is an area between fairways and rough. It’s cut higher than the green but lower than the rough. This area is not as tricky as the rough. Because golfers can manage to hit the shot from here, most golf courses don’t have a first cut, but you can find it on professional courses. 

4- The Waste Bunkers 

The waste bunkers are mostly found on link golf courses and are very large. They are unique sand traps, and their rules differ from golf course bunkers. 

5- The Dogleg

This term is named “dogleg” because the fairway is straight from the initial to some distance and bends to either left or right. It resembled the hind leg of a dog. It follows the layout of par 4 and par 5. Par means the number of strokes a golfer takes to complete the hole or round.

6- The Hazards (penalty areas)

Hazards in golf are a penalty area where golfers need to perform extra strokes as a penalty. These hazards are water, creeks, and lakes. If your ball lands in hazards, you must complete your shot from where you played your previous shot. So be careful while planning your next stroke. 

7- The Out of bounds

Out of bounds means you’re off the golf course. Out of bounds is delineated by white stakes or a painted white line. You cannot make a shot outside the bounds, even if you find your ball. Out-of-bounds shots face “stroke and distance” penalties. You must replay your last shot and add one penalty stroke. 

Additional Terms 

Additional Terms

Here are some additional terms that are being used in professional courses. 

1- Drop Area

The drop zone is a specific area where players can drop and play their ball after taking a penalty. It’s an alternative option for players to avoid taking penalty shots from the green hazards. The golf committee permits golfers to drop their balls in due to unplayable balls and other reasons. 

2- Course Rating

In course rating, a numerical value is assigned to the golf course to test the difficulty level of scratch golfers. It’s calculated by several factors such as course length, hazards, fairway, etc. But a higher course rating is more difficult to compete than a lower course rating. 

3- Slope Rating 

As course rating is used for testing the difficulty level of scratch golfers, the slope rating is used for testing the difficulty level of bogey golfers. The higher the slope rating, the more challenging it will be for (bogey) golfers. 

4- Break

The curve or slope of the green that affects the speed of the ball toward the cup is called a break. Due to its slope or curve, the ball moves either left to right or right to left, which affects the ball putting in the green.

5- Grain

Golf’s “Grain” is the green’s horizontal grass growth. The grain of the same green will vary. The grain can cause the ball to break. Your ball will move slower when you put it against the grain as opposed to with it. Dark green indicates putting against the grain, while lighter/shinier green indicates putting with it.

6- Playing from the tips 

Playing from the tips means playing from the back tees, the farthest tees from the whole. These playing tips are designed for experienced golfers to challenge their more extended, accurate shots. This adds more challenges to the game. 

7- Short sided

Short-sided is a term in the golf course in which the golfers hit the ball from fewer greens (the hazards) to the specific hole on the green. 

8- Pitch Mark 

The pitch mark is the identification of a ball on the ground. It appears on the ground due to high shots or the fast speed of the ball. It’s essential to remove the pitch mark using pitch mark tools properly. 

9- Divot

A fairway or rough shot creates a divot. When a player hits the ground with their club, a divot forms. Golfers are encouraged to repair their divots to preserve the course for other players.

10- Cart paths only

This term is used to indicate that the golf carts should drive on the cart paths only. It helps prevent any damage to the course. Most of the golfers don’t follow the rules of the golf committee. As a result, they have to face course damages. It’s necessary to follow the rules to prevent damage. 

11- Links

Links is a golf course type that’s located in the coastal areas. It has fewer trees and water hazards as compared to current golf courses. The first link golf course is found in Scotlands, where a number of tournaments were played in history. 

12- Condor

A condor in golf is a score of four strokes under par on a single hole, an extremely rare feat usually achieved by holing out on a par-5 with a long and precise drive.

How does the golf layout affect your game?

The design of the golf course can significantly affect a player’s game because it can change the round’s difficulty, strategy, and overall enjoyment. The golf course design can impact one’s gameplay in various ways.

  • Difficulty: Layout determines difficulty on a golf course. Players can be challenged by hole length, hazard placement, and green undulation. A harder course may require more accuracy and precision in shot-making, while a more straightforward course may be easier for less skilled players.
  • Shot-Making Requirements: A golf course’s design can affect the kinds of shots needed to complete each hole. For instance, a course with many uphill climbs may require players to hit draws or fades to get around corners, while a course with many bunkers might require good sand-hitting skills. The layout may also affect club selection.
  • Strategy: The golf course’s design can impact a player’s approach to every hole. A player may need to carefully position their tee shot on a dogleg hole, for instance, in order to set up a successful approach shot to the green. A course with various hole types can force players to use their imagination and change their strategy as necessary.
  • Course Management: The golf course’s design can impact players’ ability to manage their course. A player may need to carefully consider their shot selection and avoid risky shots that could result in lost balls or penalty strokes on a course with uneven surfaces or water hazards.

Sum Up

Getting a clear and concise understanding of golf course layout is key to improving your game and skills towards success. You can build a strategy for each hole and become a skillful and strategic golfer while briefly understanding it. It helps golfers make smart decisions while enjoying the game thoroughly. 

Picture of Van Douglas

Van Douglas

Van Douglas is a seasoned golf enthusiast and skilled writer, delivering informative and engaging articles on his blog that capture the essence of the sport with expertise and passion.
Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.